Underserved Podcast Topics
It is estimated that the number of podcasts for the topics of interest range from three, for celebrity net worth, to 266, for sailing. Details on the number of listeners per topic were not able to be provided as there were too many podcasts to cover in a single request. Therefore, although were unable to definitively determine if the given topics are underserved by the podcast industry, we were able to provide some relevant statistics and additional helpful findings on smart strategies for choosing a podcast topic.
Number of Podcasts
- A broad search on Spotify provided a rough estimate of the number of podcasts by topic.
- The estimates per topic are as follows: sailing (266), long-haul trucking (5), musical instruments (251), 3D printing (40), aquariums (42), celebrity net worth (3), and book summaries (108).
Average Number of Podcasts
- It is estimated that there are about 8,065 podcasts per broad topic, based on the categories outlined on Apple Podcasts. Since these categories are much broader than the niche categories described above, it was not logical to compare the data.
Suggestions on Choosing a Podcast Topic
- Determine the goal of the podcast. Is it to drive business, answer customer questions, become a thought leader, educate, entertain, or something else? The "why" can help determine both the content and the format.
- Choosing a niche topic makes it easier for the target audience to find the podcast, because the search can be specific to what they are interested in.
- It is important to be passionate about the topic. Podcasters are fully immersed in their topic and if they aren't interested, it is difficult to make it interesting for others.
- Instead of choosing the topic first, choose the audience. By determining who the audience is, research can be done on their needs and wants, which can direct the podcast content.
- Podcasts need to differentiate based on both content and format to keep listeners coming back. The goal should be to provide content that can't be found anywhere else.
Additional Helpful Findings
- The newness of the podcast industry can be seen by the fact that it is estimated there are only 39 episodes published per podcast. This was determined by dividing the estimated number of episodes (29 million) by the estimated number of podcasts (750,000).
- Five reasons that podcasts fail are no strategy, lack of preparation, no attention to detail, poor follow up, and lack of repurposing.
- An in-depth article on podcasting published by the New York Times discusses the idea that podcasts that are produced to make money are generally less successful than those that come about from a love of the topic and a desire to educate or entertain people.
- In the three months of March till May 2019, only 19.3% of podcasts published a new episode.
We began our search on the top podcasting sites, including iTunes, Stitchery, Spotify, and Amazon, to uncover data on the number of podcasts for each of the topics of interest. Although each site did break down podcasts by category, those categories were much broader that what we needed. For example, Spotify included categories such as educational, true crime, comedy, stories, music, and sports & recreation. There was no data specific to sailing, book summaries, or any of the other topics of interest. We also examined Apple podcasts as it was reported by Nielsen that iOS is used by 52% of podcast listeners. Apple Podcasts had a more detailed breakdown of categories than Spotify, but, as expected due to their niche nature, there were no categories specific to the topics of interest.
Once we determined that the data on the number of podcasts per topic was not publicly available, we decided to attempt to do a rough count of the number of podcasts per topic on Apple. Again, we chose Apple because the majority of podcast listeners use the platform. This strategy was not successful because Apple did not have a search tool specific to podcasts, so the results were a mixture of apps, podcasts and games. Therefore, we attempted to do a similar search on Spotify because it has a search feature that was more conducive to our goals. This allowed us to count the number of results for each topic, but, due to the large number overall, we were not able to verify that each podcast that came up in the search was truly focused on the topic of interest. Additionally, this only includes podcasts on Spotify, and there are likely podcasts on other platforms that are not on Spotify and, therefore, were not included. Doing a similar search on all the most popular platforms would take too much time to fall within the scope of this request. One final note is that the search results could not be added to the Wonder platform so links to all the searches have been included in the attached Google document.
Once we had a rough estimate of the number of podcasts per topic, we planned on determining the number of listeners per podcast. However, since there were over 600 podcasts in total, this was not something that could be completed within the scope of a single request. As an alternative, we attempted to determine the average number of podcasts per topic, in order to compare the average to the number for each topic of interest. In depth searches on the top podcast sites, as well as on sites that publish data on podcasts, such as The Podcast Host, InsideRadio, and Chartable, provided data on the average number of podcasts people listen to per week and how listeners find new podcasts. However, there was no data on the average number of podcasts per topic.
As a rough alternative, we decided to take the total number of podcasts (750,000) and divide it by the total number of categories (93) on Apple podcasts. This strategy is limited by the fact that the categories on Apple are much broader than what we are interested in. Therefore, although we made the calculation to provide an additional helpful data point, it can't be logically compared to the results obtained for the niche topics of interest. The result was an average of 8,065 podcasts per broad topic.